Think you might have postpartum depression symptoms? Let’s explore all the signs of PPD.
Postpartum hormones can affect your mind, body, and psyche in a surprising number of ways.
You might feel down, have crying spells, lose your appetite, and have trouble sleeping, even when your baby is out for the count.
Although no one ever wants to feel this way, it’s pretty common, and they usually go away after a week or two.
However, if your baby blues seem to be hanging around longer than expected, you may be they may actually be postpartum depression symptoms.
Hey, it’s okay to not be okay, mama.
You’re still doing an amazing job.
So, if you think you may have postpartum depression, please reach out to your doctor —help is available.
And if you need a little encouragement to do so, read on.
Content warning: We’ll be exploring some upsetting subjects, including mental illness, so if this feels like uncomfortable territory, feel free to explore the rest of our postpartum care blog.
In this article: 📝
- What is postpartum depression?
- How common is postpartum depression?
- What are normal postpartum symptoms?
- Causes of postpartum depression
- When to call your doctor
- How can you prevent PPD?
What is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression is a mental illness and a form of depression that can happen after you give birth.
It’s typically not something that will just go away on its own, and if left untreated, postpartum depression can affect your behavior and physical health.
If you’re suffering from postpartum depression, those sad, empty feelings may have a major impact on your daily life.
You might feel disconnected from baby.
Or, you might lack energy and motivation, to the point that everyday tasks feel near-impossible to do.
Postpartum depression can feel a lot like the baby blues, but if your symptoms stick around for more than two weeks, it may be time to see your doctor.
How common is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression isn’t talked about enough, but it’s actually quite common.
Research studies even show that about one in nine mothers has postpartum depression.
If you feel like you may be struggling, know that you’re not alone ‒ in fact, there’s a whole community of moms supporting each other through this challenging time, and you’re encouraged to join them.
Lots of new moms have similar feelings and experiences.
If you have postpartum depression, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom or that you did anything wrong.
This, too, shall pass, but you will need help to get through it.
Getting treatment right away will ensure that you can manage your symptoms and bond with your baby.
What are normal postpartum symptoms?
The symptoms of postpartum depression can vary in severity and may be different from person to person or even change depending on the time of day.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of postpartum depression:
- You feel sad or hopeless most of the time.
- You feel irritable, angry, or anxious a lot but you don’t know why.
- You have strong and sudden mood swings.
- You have no interest in doing things you used to enjoy, like hobbies or spending time with friends.
- You can’t stop eating or you have no appetite whatsoever.
- You are exhausted but you can’t sleep. Or, you’re sleeping way too much.
- You can’t remember things.
- You have no energy or motivation to do anything.
- You don’t feel connected to your baby like you thought you would.
- You want to leave everything or run away.
- You withdraw from family and friends because you feel like you can’t talk about what you’re going through.
- You can’t concentrate.
- You have headaches, aches, and pains, or stomach problems outside of typical postpartum recovery that won’t seem to go away.
- You cry a lot.
- You may have thoughts of hurting yourself or your baby.
If any of these symptoms feel familiar to you, please get in touch with your doctor—there are ways they can help.
Causes of postpartum depression
Experts believe that hormonal changes may trigger postpartum depression in new moms.
During pregnancy, your body goes through many major physical changes and your hormones (mainly estrogen and progesterone) soar to the highest levels they will ever be.
After you give birth, your hormone levels drop extremely quickly and re-stabilize, which may cause depression.
These hormonal changes are similar to what you experience right before you have your period (hello, mood swings!) but the drastic swing in hormonal levels is much worse.
You might even be more likely to experience postpartum depression if:
- You have a history of mental health issues like depression or bipolar disorder
- You or your family have a history of mental health problems
- You lack support from family or friends
- You use drugs or alcohol
- You are a teenager
- You are struggling to breastfeed
- You have a baby with special needs
- Your pregnancy was unplanned
- You experienced depression while you were pregnant
- You and your partner have financial or relationship problems
Many other factors can also contribute to the development of postpartum depression.
For example, you might just feel really tired after labor and delivery or from all the broken sleep with your newborn.
Don’t underestimate the effects of not getting any sleep… it can be rough!
You might also feel extremely overwhelmed, have doubts about your ability to be a good mom, or feel unattractive.
On top of it all, stress caused by major life changes like employment, home routines, the death of a loved one, or relocation can have a major impact on your mental health.
As you can see, there’s no single cause of postpartum depression: there are a lot of contributing factors that can increase your risk of having it.
Every postpartum journey is different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all way to look at any aspect of mamahood, let alone postpartum depression symptoms.
You might also experience postpartum depression is one pregnancy and not another.
When to call your doctor
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of postpartum depression listed above and it’s been longer than two weeks, it’s time to call your doctor.
As a general rule, if any of the following things apply to you, it’s a good idea to get help.
- Your baby blues stick around for more than two weeks.
- Your symptoms of depression worsen over time.
- You have no energy or motivation to get things done at home.
- You aren’t able to take essential steps to care for yourself or your baby (such as eating, bathing, or sleeping).
- You’ve had thoughts about hurting your baby or yourself.
When you see your doctor, they will be able to refer you to a qualified mental health professional for help.
How can you prevent PPD?
Well, it’s not really something you can easily prevent, as such.
If you can, try to avoid some of the potential causes (or exacerbators) of postpartum depression ‒ although we understand that some of these are hard to avoid.
But there are ways to treat postpartum depression that could help.
The most common forms of treatment healthcare professionals offer for postpartum depression are medication and therapy.
The two of these treatments combined can provide a lot of relief and help you manage your symptoms.
With time, you’ll get back to feeling like yourself again.
In addition to these two types of treatment, there are also several other things you can do at home to improve your mental state while you’re seeing a doctor or therapist for your postpartum depression.
- Get as much rest as you can (we know this is limited with a new baby!) but lean on your support system so you can take care of yourself.
- Join a support group online or in person.
- Talk with other moms about their experiences with postpartum depression. Learn from how they coped with their depression and lean on them for support.
- Talk about how you feel with your partner, supportive family members, or friends. Releasing emotions can help be very therapeutic.
- Ask your partner, friends, or family members for help if you feel overwhelmed with chores or tasks at home. Spread the workload.
- Try to avoid making any major life changes soon after you have your baby.
- Make time to do things you enjoy and spend time with loved ones.
Experiencing postpartum depression can make the whole world seem dark, even when you have a brand new precious baby to love.
If you’re struggling, please know that you’re not alone and you’re not a bad mother.
There is nothing you did to cause or deserve this.
There is help available and you will get through this difficult time with professional treatment and support from other moms who have been there before you.
You’ve got this, mama. And we’re here for you.